Another week’s installment featuring an emphasis on prospects playing for non-traditional powerhouses from the directional schools in Michigan to Massachusetts. Also taking time to look at last Friday’s showcase game. Then this piece shall move on to take a quick trip traveling down to Tuscaloosa.
– Last Friday a showcase match-up was featured as the upcoming draft’s most talented offensive tackle, Anthony Davis of Rutgers, battled one of the most physically gifted defensive ends in the nation, Greg Romeus of Pittsburgh. Neither junior prospect was overly impressive. Davis in particular had the Scarlet Knight game plan on his side, as Rutgers was quite wary of the Panthers impressive pass rush. For most of the game, Davis had help against Romeus with either a back or tight end chipping or staying in to help in the blocking schemes. When Davis was asked to handle his assignment one-on-one, his footwork seemed sluggish and displayed some troubles recovering after initial counter. When this 325 pound man was able to get a good initial fit and anchor properly, his strength easily overpowered defenders. Albeit demanding double teams, Romeus had troubles defeating the blocks and definitely had troubles when the larger Davis was able to set himself properly. This defensive end’s greatest asset seen in recent weeks is his tenacity as a pass rusher. He is long and athletic off the edge but does not show much resistance when it comes to countering properly or displaying a plethora of pass rush moves. When a war was expected of elite talents, this meeting seemed to fizzle to a degree.
– The Panthers feature another tough blocking assignment inside at defensive tackle. Pitt defensive tackle Mick Williams appears to be a nice fit as a future one gap penetrating 3 technique, or possibly even 1 technique. Williams shoots gaps quickly and displays nice burst off the line. He does struggle to eat up blocks and beating double teams, though he does attempt to dip the shoulder properly. Week in and week out this senior leader is found all over the field with great hustle to make plays.
– Each week this piece likes to spotlight some prospects that are not in the mainstream. These are the types that are not found in the BCS conferences but rather from small schools. This week two of these games will be touched upon. The first was between two nationally ranked squads among the FCS. New Hampshire visited Massachusetts. The Minutemen of UMass include one of the top ranked offensive linemen in the collegiate ranks, Vladimir Ducasse. Ducasse is a left tackle who is projected inside to guard at the next level. Physically, this offensive lineman has a very thick core with long arms. He is built like a NFL guard. Yet his game appears more suited to tackle. Ducasse looked very comfortable in his pass set, moving well laterally. He may not be a top notch athlete on the edge, but with his long arms he wards off defenders easily His run blocking was somewhat suspect at first. The tackle looked powerful upon his initial blow, and then he let up and merely walled off defenders. He rarely got extension. Late in the game when it was reaching its crucial point, Ducasse did turn it up a notch and really tried to uproot some defenders to open holes. So upon initial review, the talent is there but some development may need required.
– The game also included a few other fringe prospects of note. New Hampshire’s main target on offense, Steve Sicko, took over as the game progressed. This tight end registered 10 catches for 145 yards and 2 touchdowns in New Hampshire’s loss to Massachusetts. This prospect was able to stretch the seam effectively while proving very reliable on underneath routes. His catches down the field were impressive in regards to body control, but slightly misleading since this tight end clearly does not posses many explosive qualities even at a listed 235 pounds. His timed speed will certainly be questionable for any team looking at his abilities as a potential H-back at the next level. Umass also has a nice sized safety at 6-feet-2-inches tall and 216 pounds with some pop by the name of Jeromy Miles. Miles certainly had one crushing blow during the game. Unfortunately, he suffered a concussion on said play and missed the rest of the contest. Senior Minuteman wide receiver Jeremy Horne Murdock did not factor much into the team’s offensive gameplans with only 2 receptions for 17 yards in this contest.
– Up in Kalamazoo, Michigan two of the premiere MAC programs went head to head featuring two of the conference’s all time best under center. Well, behind center would be more appropriate. Western Michigan quarterback Tim Hiller had a record breaking day in the loss becoming the Bronco’s all time leader in touchdown passes. Hiller’s skillset as a passer is somewhat suspect because of Coach Bill Cubit’s preference for underneath and short routes in his offensive scheme. Within fifteen yards and between the numbers, Hiller can be deadly accurate. But questions still loom about his overall arm strength. These concerns become apparent when this signal caller really tried to drive the ball down field with any type of velocity. First of all Tim Hiller has a very short and compact release. When he really tries to zip the ball to his receivers this release only magnifies his lack of power. Often the ball comes out in a downward plane and balls end up driven into the ground hopelessly short of their intended targets. Twice did it occur in this game, and it has been a trait seen previously from this prospect. Some of Hiller’s problems may also stem from a weak core due to having multiple surgeries on his knee. A knee that was once again under the knife as recently as last January.
– Whereas Hiller’s counterpart Dan LeFevour has some similar issues. The Central Michigan quarterback’s ability as a dual threat also serves as a double edged sword. LeFevour may be a better option for team’s looking for that Wildcat quarterback in this draft than even Tim Tebow. As a passer, he is already further ahead than Tebow. The problem lies in his arm strength and accuracy once he is outside of the pocket. Both dissipate quickly when LeFevour is on the move. When this signal caller has the time to set his feet properly and let the ball rip, he displays much more accuracy and velocity though still not top notch levels. A major concern would be his ability to hit the deep routes since he is rarely asked to do as such, and most of his throws listed over 20 yards have come via yards after catch made by the likes of Antonio Brown and Bryan Anderson. LeFevour’s yard passing yards per game are at their lowest since his freshman year despite his accuracy being at an all time high at 70 percent. Also he led a couple of his receivers into bad spots in this past game. While it should also be mentioned this quarterback never goes under center. Dan LeFevour is clearly more dangerous with the threat of running out of Central Michigan’s spread offense than a pure passer.
– In Alabama, some were expecting somewhat of a trap against the Gamecocks but the nation’s most talented defense would have none of it. Two names need to be quickly mentioned because of their dominant play of late. Inside linebacker Rolando McClain has been lights out for Alabama. His ability playing within the scheme while shooting gaps and running the sideline to sideline has been nothing short of impressive. Up front Terrence Cody has paved the way for McClain. Cody is using his hands better to control offensive linemen, though he still has to work some against cut blocks. And the monstrous defensive tackle looks to be in better shape thus moving better on the field at a reported 345 pounds.